HAMILTON, NJ – Total housing starts declined 4% in January to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of $ 794.3 billion. Housing starts for non-residential buildings were flat in January, while housing starts for non-residential buildings decreased by 10% and housing starts for residential buildings decreased by 4%. From a regional perspective, takeoffs were lower in three of the five regions – the Midwest, the South Atlantic and South-Central. However, the launches rose in the northeast and west.
With only one month of 2021 closed, an analysis since the beginning of the year provides little useful information. In addition, January 2020 (i.e., before the pandemic) was the culmination of a strong cyclical start-up recovery that began in 2010, making it a poor point of comparison. An alternative aspect of the analysis is to compare 12 month totals. In the twelve months to January 2021, total housing starts were 11% lower than the twelve months to January 2020. Housing starts for non-residential buildings decreased by 25%, while housing starts for non-buildings decreased by 15%. However, housing starts were 5% higher in the twelve months to January 2021. In January the Dodge index lost 4% to 168 (2000 = 100) from 175 in December.
"The weak start of construction in 2021 underscores the long and rocky road the sector has to go this year," said Richard Branch, chief economist at Dodge Data & Analytics. “As the year goes on, the economy will recover as more Americans get their vaccinations. However, the construction sector's recovery will take some time due to the deep scars the pandemic has left on the industry. Patience will be key in the months to come. "
Non-building construction began 2021 with a sharp 10% decline in January to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of $ 168.4 billion. Each non-construction sector saw a decline over the month: public environmental works fell 6%, highways and bridges fell 7%, while utility / gas starts fell 13% and various non-construction works fell 17%.
The largest non-construction projects that kicked off the ground in January were the $ 825 million (450 MW) desert quartzite solar array in Blythe, California, the Mesquite Sky wind farm in Putnam, TX, and the $ 375 million ($ 300 million) MW) strong RE Slate solar farm in Stratford, CA.
In the 12 months to January 2021, total construction starts were 15% lower than in the 12 months to January 2020. On a 12 month basis, road and bridge starts were 5% higher, but public environmental works were 3% lower. Various non-construction starts fell 28% and utility / gas plant starts lost 40%.
Non-residential buildings Takeoffs were unchanged in January at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of $ 224.5 billion. Commercial launches were up 1% for the month as a sizable spike in bearing offset declined elsewhere. Institutional housing starts fell 9% in January, with education and healthcare construction falling sharply. Production starts increased 81% due to the start of two large projects.
The largest non-residential construction project that kicked off in January was Nucor's $ 850 million steel mill in Brandenburg, KY. Also later that month began Nikola Motor's $ 470 million hydrogen-electric truck plant in Eloy, AZ and $ 327 million modernization of the Riddle Hospital campus in Media PA.
In the twelve months to January 2021, housing starts for non-residential buildings fell by 25% compared to the twelve months to January 2020. Commercial launches decreased 27%, institutional launches 15%, while production launches decreased 59%.
Residential building Takeoffs fell 4% in January to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of $ 401.4 billion. The number of apartment buildings started by 7%, while the number of single-family houses decreased by 3%.
The largest multi-family structure groundbreaking in January was the $ 200 million DOT Block Residences in Dorchester, MA. During the month, the $ 153 million mixed-use Halley Rise Block D-1 building in Reston, VA and the $ 112 million 1400 W Randolph St apartments in Chicago, IL also opened.
In the 12 months to January 2021, the total number of new homes was 5% higher than in the 12 months to January 2020. The number of single-family homes increased by 12%, while the number of multi-family homes on a 12-month total basis decreased by 12%.